Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Japanese Train quiz........
Pop quiz: You’re a man sitting on the train in suburban Japan, minding your own business. The attractive lady sitting next to you nods off and unknowingly rests her head on your shoulder. You:
a) Pretend like nothing is happening
b) Wake her up—she’s distracting you from your Yukan Fuji!!
c) Silently appreciate how safe Japan is since this kind of thing happens all the time
d) Seize the moment—cop a feel!
To see what happens when you choose the wrong answer, go here.
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
So I guess this hurts my chances at being Knighted by the Queen!
A page was found in violation of the the current W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines..
This website is probably unlawful in Britain from the 1st October 2004. The British Disability Discrimination Act makes it unlawful to discriminate against a disabled person by refusing to provide any service provided to members of the public - including websites
SIGH! And the words : "Sir Skippy" had such a nice ring to it.............
Business as usual
I like Tim Russert, although I realize there are those who do not, or think that he has a liberal agenda. Me, I think his questions are usually on the mark and generally can make his guests squirm in their seats a little. This week, as expected, the topic du jour was the war. He had Joe Biden and John Warner on the program discussing the "exit strategy". Biden was not exactly Mr. Positive
MR. RUSSERT: Let me start the conversation with Senator Biden. By some comments you made at the Council on Foreign Relations on Monday--here it is: "I do think that many [Democrats] have reached a conclusion, as many of my Republican colleagues, that this is lost." Is that the view in the Senate, the war is lost?
SEN. BIDEN: Well, I think there's a number of people that think it is. I do not think it is. I think we have a six-month window here to get it
right. But I have to admit that I think its chances are not a lot better than 50:50, and it requires a real change in course along the lines that--Senator Warner laid out an amendment; got 79 votes in the United States Senate. I think if the president follows that prescription, we got an even shot to make this a success.
John Warner got the thankless job of defending the President:
MR. RUSSERT: Senator Warner, as chairman of the Armed Services Committee, do you believe we can continue to have 150,000 troops in Iraq over the next two years?
SEN. JOHN WARNER, (R-VA): I certainly do, but more importantly, yesterday, Joe, I took your article, which I've got right here, and I went over it with Pete Pace word by word--chairman of the Joint Chiefs. And he said, "That's inaccurate, that assumption." He said,"We can do it. And we will do it." We've got estimates, if we--the ground condition's justified, as the president said, to pull down. We've got an option to increase the forces. Now, we will go from 158,000 to around 138,000 shortly after the elections, assuming the ground situation covers it. But my good friend
here and I differ strongly. This article is entitled "Timetable." We should not be establishing any timetable with regard to our withdrawal.
Yes sir, Senator, it can be sustained by robbing the other services blind and by bullying the other services to giving up manpower for Iraq that it has no business giving up. That's consistent with the Rumsfeld line:
SEN. WARNER: Joe, when I talked to Pace yesterday, he said one of the means with which we're going to maintain those force levels is what we call cross-training, taking certain segments of the Army and retraining them in 30 to 60 days to perform the basic fighting we see against the insurgents, take elements of the Guard, which might take a little longer. You know, artillery men can become infantry men, artillery men can become policemen.
SEN. BIDEN: Fundamental change.
No, well, it may be a fundamental change. We certainly did it in World War II. We did it...
Actually Sen. Warner, we did not. What the US did then however was make full use of the manpower that the country could generate, by putting the country on a wartime footing and fielding a large Army. What we are doing here has another name: "Robbing Peter to pay Paul". The USAF and Navy are being forced to each give up about 10,000 people to the war at the same time they are reducing force structure by 1/4.
Regardless of the outcome of the political discussion on whether to withdraw or not, I am tired of hearing that the services can do it all with less people and assets. If this really is a global war on terror then those Navy people being shoveled into Iraq are depriving some one else of trained personnel to do other missions. Especially since the US Military is doing about 4-5 wars, not just one. Lets look at the list:
3) Horn of Africa
4) Security assistance and interdiction in PI and Southeast Asia
5) And oh yes, along the way deter China and North Korea from starting a war.
6) Anything left can be used to actually defend the US
That's a pretty full plate, especially for a Navy that is less than 300 ships. Not to worry though. Thanks to FRP we can just keep turning them and the people around and keep sending them back out. Retention is high isn't it? That means their motivated. They don't need stability in their lives or time with their families. They don't need to complete other things such as education. Just keep walking up the brow.........because we can't afford to size the armed forces for the real scale of the effort. "People are expensive".
Yea they are expensive, because they are worth investing in.
So here is my heartfelt wish. Stop trying to do it all with less people and assets. If this is a priority to win in Iraq, stop mortgaging the rest of the house to do it. Shut up and pay the bill Mr Rumsfeld.....and Mr Biden and Mr. Warner. That would be a real national service..........
Sunday, November 27, 2005
O kaeri nasai!
Some of the the things I read:
a) George Best passed away this weekend at 59. Many of the British papers had some very interesting articles about his life and achievements on the pitch and off. For you non-soccer conversant folks George Best was considered to be the best football player of his generation . One quote said, "He made football beautiful". Since I don't follow Manchester United or any other English football team, what I found interesting was the turbulent career he had and the hard driving, drinking life style he lived away from the field. It, of course, is a cautionary tale on the price of fame and living life to excess and premature death. The moralists would portray it as a familiar tale of self destruction. Ok, ok, that's true. However, I found Best's tale fascinating the more I read since it appears he and Skippy had two similar interests in common: women and booze...
The quotes by him and about him made for fascinating reading:
" People always say I should not be burning the candle at both ends. Maybe they have not got a big enough candle". -George Best, 2003
" They say I slept with 7 Miss World's. I didn't. It was only four, I didn't turn up for the other three."- George Best
B) The Swiss Guard gets the "Cajones of the Week" Award. Good for the Swiss Guard! I knew I liked those guys. Wish the US Supreme court could have understood the real issues when it ruled in favor of the destruction of my alma mater......
The Vatican told women Tuesday that they have no chance of becoming members of the Swiss Guard, the elite group that has been charged with protecting popes for 500 years. The Vatican's position on the admission of women was underscored at a news conference called to disclose plans for six months of celebrations of the anniversary of the unit's founding.
"I can't imagine that we would open up the Swiss Guard to women," its current commandant, Colonel Elmar Mader, said in response to a question. He said that barracks in the Vatican were "small and cramped" and he did not want disciplinary difficulties.
"They are young and I don't want to enlist problems," he said. "I'm not saying that women are not qualified to be in security forces, but it is a question of discipline."
Perhaps this guy should testify before Congress. Or DACOWITS........
Finally read all about the fun and games on Capitol Hill this week. More in another post. However I do have a hotel recommendation for you: Hotel Metropol near Franfurt Hbf. Any hotel that has :a) Free mini bar, b) free high speed internet connections, c) free breakfast and d) free copies of the Economist....well that's a good hotel.
Got to stop now...brain cells shutting down......ZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzz!
Saturday, November 26, 2005
Now its time to go home!
Came back to Franfurt last night and today the S.O. got the idea to go to Heidelberg. So we did, even though we have to catch the plane this evening. Its a good day when you can visit, Heidelberg and walk all around it and still get to end the day in the Frankfurt Christmas market eating sausage and drinking beer! Ja ne......
Thursday, November 24, 2005
Es ist sehr kalt!!!
We've been touring Bavaria by car with short day trips from Munich. Tuesday was Neushwanstein Castle and a nice drive through Starnburg and down to Fussen. Yesterday, we went to Oberamergau and also to Castle Lindhof, which in the snow looked like something out of someone's Christmas card.
Col Grundel would have been proud of me. I did not take one of the English guides at Lindhof and listened to the tour guide give the tour in German. Lots of words were unfamilar to me, but I got the general meaning of his talk. As I mentioned earlier, oneof the plusses of this trip is that for a change, I'm the one buying the tickets, reading the menus and talking to the sales clerks. Its nice to be doing that for a change. In Japan its about half and half her ordering and me listening.......
Today was Nyphemberg castle and a good walk around downtown. As we were touring we came across a whole group of Chinese VIP's getting the "special" tour. As we left the castle they came out of another door and were guided to the line of Mercedes limo's with little Chinese flags. I wish I could have scribbled a big sign that said" Independence NOW! for Taiwan." Alas not time. All Chinese big wigs look alike in their black suits. They do!
Back to Frankfurt tomorrow. Zannen desu! These 3 days have been pretty good. And then there is the beer...........
Soon its back to Nihon and the usual fun and games at work. Been reading the news and seeing John Murtha crucified in the press. Sad. Agree or not he has provoked a needed discussion and I think that was his whole intent. The good news is the voters in Johnstown will probably re-elect him. That's better than the gerry-madered district in Pittsburgh I vote absentee in.......
Got to run......
Happy Thansgiving. My Thanksgiving feast was Bratwurst and Weiswurst........somehow not quite the same as turkey and fixin's.
Then again, there is the beer...........
Monday, November 21, 2005
Stuck with a dial up
Off to Munich today I'll be living with a dial up there.
Note to self: "Why the hell have you still not purchased a wireless card?"
Sunday, November 20, 2005
A really good day..........
Today was just a great day! The S.O. had been fussing about the money I spent to rent a car here, thinking we could just make do with walking and taxis and trains. However she wanted to see the Rhein and she thought their would be no cruises this time of year....( she was wrong ...again!). However she appreciated the car when we got out and got to Mainz to do some sightseeing / shopping. It was foggy and we were concerned it would no lift. But it did and it gave way to a perfectly glorious day. We pushed on from Mainz to Rudesheim where there are lots of wine shops and other things to buy. Since I had to drive.....(DAMNIT!) I had to suffice with a taste of some really good Ice Wine.
Back on the road we took route 42 which runs right along the river bank. The views we saw were beautiful! The leaves were in their full range of colors. Lots to see and took plenty of pictures. We drove all the way up to Koblenz stopping in a couple of paces along the way. Driving the Mercedes rent a car was pretty awesome too.........(B-180 Diesel, handles like a charm......).
If you ever get a chance to drive this route, take it!.........I hate driving but today was just great for some reason.
In Koblenz got to see the first of what I am sure are many Christmans markets. I was a bit suprised to see one, I thought they started later.
Important safety tip on the auto bahn I discovered. If you are not doing 130+ stay the hell out of the left lane!
Off to Rotenburg tomorrow...........
Still need to convince the S.O. not to try to bargain with European shopkeepers. Some looked really offended......You can take the girl out Japan, but you can't take the Japan out of the girl!
Saturday, November 19, 2005
A few random observations from the trip so far:
Russia is a BIG country. The aircraft spent most of the flight over Russian airspace and I think that was a lot more time than a TYO-SFO leg would be.......
My high school German teacher and Lt Col Grundel, my Hungarian born, German college professor, would be shocked to know that I actually learned something. And Colonel, I acknowdledge publicly that you were right and my 19 year old self was wrong, I should have stuck through your classes for all 4 years of my experience at my beloved alma mater. However you can take satisfaction in knowing that your lessons actually did take hold in my small brain and I can actually read the paper and understand the spoken German here pretty well. Thank you for being good teachers and forcing language drills on me......
Speaking of language, I love being finally in a situation where the S.O. does not have the upper hand when it comes to reading signs, or menus, or even watching TV. I can tell she hates that. That may be the most fun of this entire trip......
Its clear I hit a nerve by supporting Chuck Hagel in my last post. Good. I still agree with James Webb about Iraq. While clearly, there are poltitical undertones to the current discussion about Iraq in Congress, I also think it underscores something I have believed for a long time, the President has only about 9 more months of public patience on the war to rely on and that 2006 will have to show some REAL Iraqification of the security effort or things will be very noisy domestically. Yesterdays news about bombings does not bode well......
Its also clear that, with better leadership the Democrats could actually be making some legitimate points. John Dean and Harry Reid are not it..........neither is Hillary. Its interesting that it is responsible Republicans who are making the best and most coherent arguements on the war today. Democratic rhetoric is just making the right wing have to work less hard. If they had some decent leadership, they could actually win some elections...........
It's cold as you know what here.........
Finally, cold or not Germany is cool......Hopefully will have som pix to post in a couple of days........
Thursday, November 17, 2005
Wir fahren auf Deutschland!
Not sure how the blogging is going to be for the next week, so if you see no new words, well, remember Papillion...: "I'm still here, yoou greasy bastards!!"
Speaking of that line, here's to Chuck Hagel for forgetting his republican zombie oath and acting like a real thinking American:
"The Iraq war should not be debated in the United States on a partisan political platform," the Nebraska senator remarked. "This debases our country, trivializes the seriousness of war and cheapens the service and sacrifices of our men and women in uniform. War is not a Republican
or Democrat issue. The casualties of war are from both parties. The Bush administration must understand that each American has a right to question our policies in Iraq and should not be demonized for disagreeing with them. Suggesting that to challenge or criticize policy is undermining and hurting our troops is not democracy nor what this country has stood for, for over 200 years. The Democrats have an obligation to challenge in a serious and responsible manner, offering solutions and alternatives to the Administration’s policies."
To question your government is not unpatriotic – to not question your government is unpatriotic. America owes its men and women in uniform a policy worthy of their sacrifices."
Amen and amen, and that statement alone has given me new inspiration. Of course he will be attacked by the usual crowd of sycophants, but in this case they will be wrong and the good Senator from Nebraska right. Thank goodness he had the courage to say what many think........
Just shows you can be a Republican and think too......
Contrary to what many have heard. : They are different........
The human capital strategy by any other name would smell just as sweet??.....
Just ask any one working for a base these days about that!
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
Taking a good deal....and screwing it up!
Example number 2 is Japan's Princess Sayako's wedding to a commoner yesterday. Under a 1947 law, female royals automatically become commoners when they are married and are barred from assuming the throne. ( Does not work that way for men though......is this a great country or what?) To prepare for this dramatic comedown, Princess Sayako has taken driving lessons and practiced shopping at supermarkets; the couple has studied catalogs to choose furniture and appliances for their new home. Or as Hemlock from Hong Kong described it:
As a result of marrying so far beneath her station, the delicate and coy Nori, as she is affectionately known, will have to leave the emperor’s palace and move into a shabby little public housing unit. While her husband is off performing his municipal duties, she will no doubt attend to her beloved flower arranging, pausing once in a while to gaze wistfully out of the grimy window at the local trains passing by below, perhaps catching a fleeting glimpse of drunk salarymen passing the time on their 3-hour commute by groping schoolgirls or reading depraved manga comics.
Obviously, we all agree, she is in emotional turmoil after being isolated from the real world all these years in the rarified surroundings of the imperial household. Isn’t this street-cleaner taking advantage of her naivety? There is unspoken concern among us as we glide down towards Central. How can this horny-handed son of toil, while no doubt decent and honest in his rough, soap-deprived, working-class way, treat this precious and innocent chrysanthemum with the respect and sensitivity she deserves, especially in the early days of their union, when she is becoming accustomed to connubial life? Fate, for some reason, has required me to introduce a number of 30-something ladies to the long-overdue pleasures of the bed chamber, and I know that it requires patience, tender consideration and perhaps a few glasses of Bailey’s. Seeing their delight as they discover the wonders bestowed by the sacrifice of their purity is its own reward. As a Taiwanese art gallery assistant once wrote to me in an embarrassing fax that amused Ms Fang the hunter-killer secretary so much that she showed it to everyone, “a woman is like a house – the older she is, the faster she catches fire.” Who can restrain a shudder at the thought of this fragile and noble beauty's unsullied womanhood suffering the clumsy, forcible attentions of a brutish city employee?
Man! That guy can write!
She did make a beautiful bride though:
As it should be, the woman walking 4 steps behind her man. Too bad I can't get the S.O. to do that.........
And of course she had reason to smile when the Imperial Household agency told her about her dowry.......(152.5 Million Yen! 1,386,386 dollars!):
As a member of the royal family though....think of the money she had access to.
And in the final and most egregious example of screwing up a good thing and breaking something that was not broken, was talking to a Navy friend who is working on details of the proposed move of the Carrier Air Wing from Atsugi to Iwakuni......This is supposedly one of the things George W and Koizumi san are going to laugh about and toast over sake this week ( well Koizumi might, sadly, Laura won't let George drink anymore....)........wait till the Japanese government gets the bill for all the things they are going to have to build:
Housing, new maintenance support buildings, payoffs to the local governments in Yamaguchi prefecture.......... And what does the US get out of this bold , brave cave in to statistically minor numbers of complaints about noise in Yamato city? Not a damn thing........ No additional training can be done in Iwakuni that is not already done here, hours and hours of waiting for transportation up to Yokosuka for the ships crew, No place for 1,600 strapping examples of American youth to go on liberty.....( Have you ever been to Iwakuni city? Tokyo it ain't....). As my friend pointed out, the US Navy would be better off just deploying a carrier here from the states 365 days a year than doing all the workarounds this move is going to require........
As I said, nothing like taking a really good sweetheat deal and screwing it up........Can't just leave a good thing alone........that would not be the American way!
Now where the hell is my German dictionary...?
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Former DoD Transformation Head Dies at Age 63
While I did not agree with some of his ideas, the man was truly brilliant and his mind worked at a level about 3 times above the average persons. I had the opportunity back when I was on active duty to brief him, and his questions were deep, thoughtful, and always straight to the heart of the matter. Truly,a loss for the Navy and the United States.
No cause of death is given in the article. 63? Good grief, that is just really unfair. Sad news indeed.
Monday, November 14, 2005
The ripple effect.......
He just made my job as a transportation planner twice as hard. Why? Because whenever the President goes anywhere, its not just Air Force One that goes wheels in the well. On average 6- 8 C-17's are positioned to move all the "crap" that goes with a presidential entourage. It would be all well and good if we had tons of spare C-17's around, but the truth of the matter is, we don't. There is this little fracas in Iraq, Afghanistan, Philippines, and Horn of Africa to deal with. So whatever region the President visits, hears the giant sucking sound of the USAF pulling aircraft of validated transport missions to be available to back up the back up aircraft. And as is always the case, the USAF immediately turns to the Navy and says, "suck it up!".
I've seen this before, when Bush came out for the APEC summit last year. We lost about 15 % of our validated missions for a period of almost 2 and 1/2 weeks. As I said before it would not be such a big deal, except that there are Carriers flying 100 sortie days, Helicopter ships doing sea surveillance, and other aircraft that need parts, many of which cannot be subcontracted out to commercial carriers due to the size and or composition of the cargo. AMC is always slow to respond or plan ahead for these evolutions because they are essentially a steady state operation despite their "Global Reach" propaganda. As a result the readiness of "real people" suffers due to the "ripple effect"......... Some of it you can work around, others you can't.
Under the category of "That's Entertainment" , Jenifer has come across some really interesting flash videos. Reading her posts lately, she and I are seeing eye to eye. She is a smart lady. She is sticking up for John Mc Cain, bashing Tom Cruise and Russel Crowe. She understands the USFSPA:
She even provides a free history lesson at her blog........
I'd offer her a beer, but she would just kick my ass, so I'll leave well enough alone.
I've been doing some reading lately of some pretty interesting and off the wall books. I recently finished a history called Empire Made Me . It is the story of Richard Maurice Tinkler, and Englishman who , when unemployed after the war, made his way to Shanghai to become a member of the Shanghai Municipal police, the folks who kept law and order in the British international settlement in Shanghai. Tinkler became famous at the outset of World War II for getting bayoneted by a Japanese soldier. As the book notes, " Tinkler would have remained just another anonymous and forgotten colonial policeman were it not for his unexpected death, at the hands of Japanese marines and an incompetent local doctor, in June 1939. His suspicious death created a noisy diplomatic incident that was picked up by journalists and splashed across the front pages of Britain's newspapers."
However, what I found interesting about Tinkler was the fact that the longer he stayed in Shanghai, the less he had a desire to return to England. He felt almost exiled by his old country, and also his service, a sentiment I can very much understand and empathize with. He came to enjoy the life of an expatriate and although he was very much a racist, he was also a keen observer of the world in Shanghai. The book is also an interesting expose of the racist undertones that were well present in the Empire during the interwar years and were echoed by Tinkler.........
I also went back and re-read The French Foreign Legion by Douglas Porch, formerly a history professor at my beloved alma mater. Lately, I have been trying to read as much as I can about Algeria and the revolt against 130 years of French rule. Its interesting for 2 reasons: A0 I think there are parallels with Iraq and b) the loss of Algeria set the stage for the current riots by Muslims in France. I'm still looking for a good history of the period, so if anyone knows of one, please let me know.
And finally, watch this charming little bit of entertainment and see if you can look at Rush Limbaugh the same way again.............Nasty, but still funny. It is safe for work, provided you don't work with ditto heads........
Sunday, November 13, 2005
At least he is not in the bunker........
My normal golf game is a combination of shots that make me happy and shots that just piss me off. Many times especially on hole number 18 , a 155 yard Par 3, where the green is 30 feet above the tee box and as a result plays long; I am forced to console myself with the statement,
" Well, at least its not in the bunker......"
George W. Bush gave a speech Friday, which took on his critics and struck back at them. While I did not see it live due to the fact that it was on during my sleeping time, I've since watched replays of quotes, read the text and listened and read the pundits....... Probably the best way to sum it up is the same as my golf game, "At least he is not in the bunker (anymore)."
That's a good thing in and of itself. After all, George W. has had a lot of sand play lately on this second round of presidential golf. He hit into the Katrina bunker very unexpectedly on an easy hole. Tee'ed up on the Supreme Court hole only to slice hard into a deep fairway bunker on the right side. Ended up having to take a 1 stroke penalty for an unplayable lie.
Then, one of his playing partners was withdrawn and it is unsure if Carl is going to be able to finish the round. And of course GW has never really recovered from digging himself deep into that "mother of all sand traps" Iraq.
Basically the pundits come down on the speech about as expected. If you support Bush , then its a good speech; if you do not, then its a whitewash. Lex, Jeff Goldstein, and Instapundit all like it. (that's a good cross section of the really intelligent thinkers...). Moving on them from them, well, the usual sycophants liked it: The LBFM and the rest of the right wing sycophants like it , of course. Left wing bloggers hated it. I think it was a good speech, albeit a bit long, and as it typical for Bush, delivered poorly; in his "I can't believe I have to justify my decisions" style. And certainly Bush needs to do something after being backed up against the wall these last few weeks. He has the right to defend himself.
What I do not understand is the location of the speech. Seems to me the President is falling back on his old standby of using the military as props whenever he needs to make a point about Iraq. Why? As I have said before, they are not the people he has to convince. Why not use his authority as President to call a joint session of Congress and take this issue head on? In front of Congress and on national TV is where he should be saying:
While it is perfectly legitimate to criticize my decision or the conduct of the war, it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began. Some Democrats and anti-war critics are now claiming we manipulated the intelligence and misled the American people about why we went to war. These critics are fully aware that a bipartisan Senate
investigation found no evidence of political pressure to change the intelligence community's judgments related to Iraq's weapons programs. They also know that intelligence agencies from around the world agreed with our assessment of Saddam Hussein. They know the United Nations passed more than a dozen resolutions citing his development and possession of weapons of mass destruction. Many of these critics supported my opponent during the last election, who explained his position to support the resolution in the Congress this way: 'When I vote to give the President of the United States the authority to use force, if necessary, to disarm Saddam Hussein, it is because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a threat, and a grave threat, to our security.' That's why more than 100 Democrats in the House and the Senate, who had access to the same intelligence voted to support removing Saddam Hussein from power.
The stakes in the global War on Terror are too high, and the national interest is too important, for politicians to throw out false charges. These baseless attacks send the wrong signal to our troops and to an enemy that is questioning America's will. As our troops fight a ruthless enemy determined to destroy our way of life, they deserve to know that their elected leaders who send them to war continue to stand behind them. Our
troops deserve to know that this support will remain firm when the going gets tough. And our troops deserve to know that whatever our differences in Washington, our will is strong, our Nation is united, and we will settle for nothing less than victory.
I've never understood this whole emphasis on a consistent message for the troops thing. Having been in the military previously and knowing and working with military folks now, they expect nothing more from our politicians than they are already getting. And as for consistency, well if GW wanted a consistent message on the GWOT, perhaps he should consider the inconsistencies in his own administrations message, e.g. continuing to shrink the overall active duty force and at the same time oppose paying troops money that is rightfully theirs ( No pay raise in FY-07 which is the current administration budget position), that certainly sends the wrong message to the troops.
To me, the argument over WMD's was, and will always be, a red herring. Lets face it, many who now argue against the war, did believe in 2002 that Saddam was working to get WMD's. He was not the only leader of a one party state who was doing so at the time. However Iraq, was the nation that the President decided early on to go after. And there were critics at the time who warned him that this was a foolhardy thing to do, and that in the long run would create greater headaches than it solved. James Webb was one. The question he asked then, and still asks now, is the one the President still has trouble answering today:
Is (was) there an absolutely vital national interest that should lead us from containment to unilateral war and a long-term occupation of Iraq? And would such a war and its aftermath actually increase our ability to win the war against international terrorism?
That's the part of the current congressional uneasiness that the administration tends to gloss over. The reasons for the Iraq war have continued to morph into various forms as the occupation / Iraqi defense. Prior to the war, one could hear 5 rationales for going to war:
2) Al Quaeda link
3) Saddam is Evil
4) Regime change (related to #3)
5) Getting rid of Saddam will free up US troops in the Middle East for other areas in the GWOT.
Democracy and setting the reforming the entire Middle East was never part of any of the public rationale. After the war, early on it was not a part of the explanation package either. It was only in the last 12 months did democratization become the major theme. Again Mr Webb says it better than I (from a book review he did) :
The 2003 invasion of Iraq and its consequences owe more to the insistent saber-rattling of the removed, intellectual classes than any other war in American history. That so many leaders and commentators now coldly politicize what is, at bottom, a visceral and powerfully emotional experience for those on the receiving end of our invasion has magnified the inability of many Americans to understand the differences between the Bush administration's aspirations and Iraq's realities. It also has depersonalized the Iraqi people in many eyes and fed the irony of the rhetoric from those who claim that Iraqi resistance is driven simply by the fear and hatred of the "freedom" America has brought them. The U.S. leadership views the attempt to overhaul Iraq as power politics, designed to remake an entire region. Most Iraqis, by contrast, measure the invasion and occupation through its impact on diverse cultural forces, strongly held local traditions and a long history of other invasions and occupations.....
Indeed, few Americans grasp how deeply Iraqis feel their own history, or how fiercely they have always resisted foreign occupation. "The last four centuries were hell," one burly, aging Iraqi academic says to Shadid. "Despotic, tyrannical, bloody regimes, and most of them were foreign." We learn that President Bush's promise that the U.S. military would arrive in Iraq not as conquerors but as liberators was virtually identical to the words British Maj. Gen. Sir Stanley Maude used in 1917 ("Our armies do not come into your cities and lands as conquerors or enemies, but as liberators"), when Britain began a decades-long occupation during World War I, defeated the Ottoman Turks and took control of Iraq's oil. "It's a long story, the history of Iraq," a Baghdad restaurateur told Shadid, without apparent irony.
Mr Webb has been a consistent opponent of the War in Iraq. He is hardly a liberal though, which is why one should listen to what he has to say. He is one of the few authors these days who make the key distinction between Iraqi national interest and United States national interest, which are not and never will be the same. Webb makes no secret of the fact that he comes squarely down on the side of US national interests; by that criteria alone all five of the pre-war objectives have been accomplished, ergo its time for the US to move on and throw the Iraqi's into the deep end of the pool and let them swim for themselves. To me, his logic makes a lot more sense than some of the arguments put forth for maintaining a 5 year troop presence in Iraq (from an interview with the San Diego Tribune):
What is your take on the wisdom of our strategy in Iraq and the competence of its execution?
I was an early voice saying we shouldn't go in, that it was not connected to the war against international terrorism, that it was not among the highest national security concerns that we should be considering. My warning before we went in was basically that it was a strategic mousetrap on three different levels. One is that it would involve the nation's focus and attention and resources beyond military resources to the detriment of other interests. Second was that if you're going to decapitate a government, you would be draining your force structure. And thirdly, in the sense that we have focused so strongly on the Sunnis while the Shiites have been in a win-win since day one, and as a result we're empowering Iran.
Has that view changed any now?
You don't buy the argument that it didn't used to be about terrorism and al-Qaeda but that now it is?
I think the tragedy in my view of Iraq is that it has created a lot more terrorists than would have existed if we hadn't gone in. I don't think it's a plus that Iraq is filled with terrorists right now. This isn't a zero-sum game like there's only X number of terrorists in the world and as a result we're going to draw them to the flytrap and kill them off. ( Skippy-san comment: Ask the folks in Jordan about that! They might agree with you.)
There are a lot of people who say we made a terrible mistake but we will compound it if we just back out now. Do you agree?
I'm not saying we should pick up everything and leave in six months. I'm saying we made a horrendous mistake going in, in my view a strategic error. This is not a moral comment. There are a lot of situations around the world where I wouldn't shed a tear if a leader were taken out. The question is where you draw your national priorities and how that plays out. I was in Beirut as a journalist in 1983. It was an incredible experience for me looking at the lay of the land. We had an issue when I was secretary of the Navy where we tilted toward Iraq (during the Iran-Iraq war). I think I was the only guy in the Reagan administration who opposed the tilt toward Iraq in writing.
What's your recommendation on how we get out?
I think there are two things that need to happen. The first is that the
administration needs to say with absolute clarity that we have no long-term aspirations in Iraq. And then the other is to reinvolve a lot of the countries
that are in that region. Iran's probably too dangerous because of the way they've moved into the Shiite areas; But to reinvolve the Arab nations and invite them to participate in the solution.
We have invested 3 billion a year in Egypt, a good amount in Jordan and also a lot in Saudi Arabia. If the Arabs were smart they would be actively seeking to take over Iraqi security responsibilities to reduce American presence in what they should rightfully see as an Arab region. ( I have not seen one bit of movement to getting a pan -Arab security force to take over from the US in Iraq......it would certainly take less time than the current route.....).
So forget the WMD's! That's ancient history and any time wasted discussing it takes emphasis away from the real argument here: Why did the president take the nation on this expensive little detour? And if it was freakin' necessary for Bush to play mid wife to democracy in Iraq, then why are we so skittish in other places where the threat is bigger? (e.g. Asia) Finally, if this is part of a long term (15 year+) plan, why does the Bush administration continue to underesource the armed forces make them work a hell of lot harder than they should have to in this effort? (A 10 division army doing the work of a 14-15 division one and a 290 ship Navy doing the work of 450......)
Now there is a worthwhile discussion, particularly as the President gets ready to sit down and have tea and smile with the leaders of a brutally undemocratic country. ( Such as China?) .
just my opinion,
Day late and a dollar short
Which meant that I failed in one of my weekly duties :
Only a week till I am drinking these!
You know I have had too many if I start seeing these!!!
Friday, November 11, 2005
No Some politics today!
A couple of editorial comments though:
1) Who makes decisions for the terrorists and why are they so f**ked up? Bombing an Arab nation that has sat on the fence for years hardly seems to be the way to help one's war effort. It is the quintessential equivalent of shooting one's foot off ( or something worse). Just f**king stupid.......
2) I also think that the Jordanian protests are right on target: "Burn in hell, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi!"
3)A recent poll says that "most Americans say they aren't impressed by the ethics and honesty of the Bush administration, already under scrutiny for its justifications for an unpopular war in Iraq and its role in the leak of a covert CIA officer's identity." I think it missed the mark. I don't think Bush is dishonest at all. His compass however, is decidedly 180 degrees out of whack. He does need to find a different way to package himself. He continues to come across on TV as arrogant and unable to accept different viewpoints. Accordingly, I would sum up his TV persona as " I'm being patient with a fool..." The fool of course being all of us who don't accept his explanations at face value.
Now to the good news for the day. S.O. and I went to Mt Ooyama (大山）down in Isehara (伊勢原）。 We wanted to take advantage of the holiday to see the changing of leaves, known in Japan as Kouyou(紅葉）...Taking in and appreciating these scenes is called momiji-gari, an excursion for viewing the scarlet maple leaves. Today they were just beautiful:
Ooyama is a neat place. Finding a place to park the car is a little difficult and the drive back is simply painful if you get stuck in traffic. However once the parking obstacles are overcome, the walk up to the cable car is quite interesting. Lots of shops selling tops (koma) an Ooyama item, other items including sweet sake and a lot of restaurants specializing in Tofu. As you come to the cable car station you find out why: The mountain streams have beautiful crystal clear water and that is important to good Tofu. ( More on that later.......).
We boarded the cable car and rode up to the shrine:
After washing our hands, and allowing the SO to pay her yen offering, clap her hands and pray ( truth be told I did too, but to with no hand clapping, just asking God to help me figure about 30 things out........). It was off to the mountain trail to the summit.
A word about Japanese trail building. It appears the concept of switchbacks are unheard of here. 250 steps straight up the side of the mountain are though and after ascending them all, we realized that we still had a lot more to go on the trail about 90 minutes worth. Since a good Japanese meal was part of our reason for the expedition, we abandoned the search for the summit. What really sucked was watching men in their 70's climb, climb, climb. Genki ne?
I'm not kidding about the stairs:
Turnaround we did and on the way down we skipped the cable car. Again we had to traverse straight stairs down the face. So about 3pm we arrived back at the main station and picked restaurantnt to eat in. We picked a small one, but it appeared to havsomeem folks in it and prices were not too bad. It turned out to be a good pick.
Now I am not a big fan of Tofu. The word almost always makes me think of my friend's old criticism of the west coast Navy: Granola crunchin', sandal wearing, tree hugging, Corona drinking, Tofu eating, feminist thinkin', homo-loving, no load sacks of s**t.......Come to think of it, that's probably still a good summary of San Francisco, California. However the set meal the S.O. ordered for me ( she indulged me by letting me order it myself in Japanese and thus save some shred of my manhood....she did have to help me read it though...). Bottom line: it was all pretty good. Tofu with veggies, Tofu miso soup, Hot tofu with soy sauce, rice, Japanese pickles, sweet Tofu bars.....
Not something I'd want every day, but far better than I've had before in other places. Sadly, no beer as I had to drive, but as much ryokucha (green tea) as you wanted.
All in all, a pretty good day. Bad world news or not...........Not really fair though, while the rest of mankind has to sleep so badly.
Thursday, November 10, 2005
Am I the only one who thinks this is crazy?
Now, I'll admit, I'm not the most religious of persons, usually worshipping at "our holy mother of the 16th fairway" on Sundays, but at the same time I believe in God. This is simply ridiculous. PRAYER POLICY!?!? Seems to me there should only be one:
You feel the need to ask God for anything.......
Get down on your knees and pray. Its up to God, if He says yes, but everything I've read says he is never offended by the asking......
Of course then again, I also believe God loves the Navy more than the USAF.........
This is lunacy and political correctness gone too far..............
Today is one of those kind of days. (Plus it is the day before a holiday weekend....)
So accordingly, I spent the day dealing with the USDAO in the Philippines, who have turned to stone about allowing our airlift aircraft in. Rumor has it part of our problem has to do with the fine piece of trailer trash Army SFC, who works our issues and her inability to be flexible. Everyone I have talked to says she is a B-I-T-C-H. Probably does not surprise me. After all, it must be hell to be a fat Caucasian woman in the PI........there is no way you can compete. Let's face it, any 33 year old Filipina with a nice ass beats a woman with a beer gut any day of the week.
The problem is, our supposed "allies" in the war on terror are making it more than hard to resupply aviation assets there. "Why not use FEDEX?" , you ask. Well because thanks to the incompotence of Philippine customs officals and the fact that the US government does not give us a line item for bribes, we have no way to pry the parts out of the customs people. It is so frustrating!
Madame Chiang has some great stuff about the bombings in Jordan. The whole thing is a tragedy, made even worse by the fact iot shows how really stupid the terrorists are pissing off an Arab nation. Like I said in an earlier post, just gives Arabs time, they will f**k up any good deal........57 people dead! Time for Jordan to start sweeping the streets with 50 caliber weapons........
In the meantime Gardner in Korea reports on something direct from "West Wing". In the live debate the other night I am told Alan Alda's character said, the following:
"How many jobs will you create?" [Dianne] Sawyer asked Vinick.
"None," he replied. "Entrepreneurs create jobs. Business creates jobs. The president's job is to get out of the way."
And in the true spirit of entrepreneuriership, the kind people at Penthouse have offered two down on their luck people a job:
TAMPA, Fla. - A Carolina Panthers cheerleader was charged Monday with giving police a false name when she and another cheerleader were arrested at a bar where witnesses told police the woman had sex in a restroom.
Penthouse magazine is making an offer to the former cheerleaders. The P.R. woman for the magazine confirmed it Monday night. The nationally known men’s magazine wants to cash in on what allegedly went on inside the bars bathroom stall. The former Panther cheerleaders are accused of having sex with each other and starting a fight. The Panthers organization isn't saying much, but their website is down. Millions of hits from fans are trying to learn more about the cheerleader scandal.
Whne life gives you lemons, make lemonade......too bad it does not work that way for guys.....
Came across some more tidbits about France and the ongoing riots:
Poverty leads to terrorism as the poverty is also the biggest polluter. But are there not French or Christians or White men poor in league with their poorest immigrant Muslim cousins? There are poor people also among the Asian immigrants. Does it mean all of them should take up the arms against the state? Or should it be the privilege of the ‘beurs’ to engage in vandalism? On the other hand, it has become a parrot-fashion for arm-chaired commentators to tell that the growing unemployment and wretched living conditions of the Muslim immigrant population are the reasons behind the ongoing violence in cities of France.
They conveniently forget that a sort of discrimination on the basis of caste, creed and colour always exist in the job market not only in France but also everywhere in the world. It should not be encouraged by saner elements in the society. But the fact remains that it exists. Only the forces of globalisation have adversely affected the tightened grips of such forces. In this competitive world, employers prefer the best. The problem is not of unemployment. It is rather a problem of ‘unemployable’.
In other words, French Muslims, wake up and smell the coffee!!( Or Latte whatever the case may be........) Get off your ass and ASSIMILATE!!!!!!
Come to think of it, that would be good advice for Hispanics in LA...........
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
How am I supposed to be famous at this rate?
My blogis worth $19,758.90. My poor daily attempt at a blog is worth only $19,758.90!?
How in the hell am I supposed to become a rich and famous writer? Especially when a c**t like Michelle Malkin is worth over 2 billion!?!?
There is no justice in the world................
Lord Curzon's advice
We must remember that the ways of
ArabsOrientals are not our ways, nor their thoughts our thoughts. Often when we think them backward and stupid, they think us meddlesome and absurd. The loom of time moves slowly with them, and they care not for high pressure and the roaring of the wheels. Our system may be good for us; but it is neither equally, not altogether good for them. Satan found it better to reign in hell than to serve in heaven; and the normal ArabAsiatic would sooner be misgoverned by ArabsAsiatics than well governed by AmericansEuropeans.
Just ask France about that.........
Concerning the French riots
Well, Jon, the immigrants, mainly North African Muslims, are upset that they're being shunned by French society. They feel alienated, scorned, looked down upon. Apparently they're unaware this is a common situation known as "being French." When you see the images of the violence in Iraq and the unrest in Argentina you showed earlier, it's refreshing to see a country implode in a violent orgasm of hatred and know they can't pin this one on us.
That about sums it up. Now I think I'll go look at SPG's pictures.........
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
Good thing they all had TIP training.
Lost Nomad points out a little side benefit of trying to regulate troops desire for sins of the flesh:
A rise in sexual assaults?
While reading this article in Stars & Stripes, something hit me: Has anyone else noticed that the numbers of military-on-military sexual assaults have gone up ever since USFK started their anti-prostitution
witch huntcampaign? And these are just the ones that make it into the news (which not all do).
Of course I could point out that all male units might also have lower rates, but who wants to raise that old point again? (ME!)
Things that just make you shake your head....
But I digress. After wading through his fabrications e.g. that France is a Socialist country, and is evil because it believes that it has a responsibility to provide for its citizens; deriding the French system of taxation that actually provides a decent standard of living for most of them; and above all deriding them for having an ethnic make-up foisted upon them because the United States refused to support them in their effort to maintain what was an integral department of France ( Algeria), he comes to his real point, that the French riots are a warning to the United States that it too could be next. At the end of his pontification, he thanks his lucky stars that he lives in a country that allows the rich to get richer while the poor get poorer.
Now in one regard, O' Reilly is right, emphasis on "diversity" vice encouraging assimilation into a French society is partially to blame for this. Poverty and unemployment and the apparent ability to move ahead are also at fault. For the latter though, the damn Arabs and Africans have only themselves to blame, proving yet again my prevailing theory about Arabs in general. Give them a good deal and with time they will just f**k it up.
Now the Muslims claim that they are discriminated against:
Many French Muslims demand more public recognition by the state, and resent the law which bans the wearing of Muslim headscarves.
I've always felt the French were right to ban the scarves. You want to wear a scarf, go back to Algeria or Tunisia or anywhere else you came from.......You want to live in the 5th Republic, learn to speak French, settle down and get a job. Could it be that former French Prime Minister Pierre Mend'¨s-France was right when he said:
"One does not compromise when it comes to defending the internal peace of the nation, the unity and integrity of the Republic. The Algerian departments are part of the French Republic. They have been French for a long time, and they are irrevocably French... Between them and metropolitan France there can be no conceivable secession."
At least if France still owned Algeria, they would have a place to send these criminals......
Of course the response from the rioters is that they have tried to get jobs and are discriminated against. That they had to leave Algreia, Tunis, and other places because there was no hope for them there, the governments that succeeded the French were incompetent to the task of running a nation. France wanted them for the same reason the Turks are so evident in Germany, somebody had to do the hard, s***ty little jobs........After time passed though, and thanks to the information revolution these folks and their children wanted more.
And as is typical, the French are arguing about the causes of the riots:
The explosion of violence has split both the public and the political classes
The comment of hardline Interior Minister Nicholas Sarkozy that the rioters were "scum" prompted to Socialist Party leader Francois Hollande to tell Liberation, a left-wing daily, that he had "zero tolerance" for Sarkozy and his "simplistic polemics."
An online, and therefore unscientific, survey in Le Monde found 51 percent of 11,000 respondents thought Sarkozy's language was unjustified. Forty five percent thought it justified.( Something tells me the same poll, taken in America might have different results).
Jean Francois Mattei, writing in the conservative daily Le Figaro said the violence is rooted in irresponsibility embodied by a kind of "linguistic
"In France one no longer speak of 'riots' but of 'actions of harassment': not of 'delinquents' but 'youth;' not of 'police,' but 'provocateurs;' not of 'drug trafficking,' but 'the parallel economy,'" he wrote.
But the editors of Le Monde argued the continuing burning of cars and sacking of public buildings is proof that the conservative government's "zero-tolerance" policies have failed just as much as the liberal policies of the previous
left-wing government. The state, they wrote, is "impotent."
Back in the Post's pages, Molly Moore writes that the rioting "underscores the chasm between the fastest growing segment of France's population and the staid political hierarchy that has been inept at responding to societal shifts. The youths rampaging through France's poorest neighborhoods are the French-born children of African and Arab immigrants, the most neglected of the country's citizens. A large percentage are members of the Muslim community that accounts for about 10 percent of France's 60 million people."
Yea, yea, yea. All of that may be true, but when a house is on fire, the first thing you do is put out the fire. That calls for a vigorous police presence, backed up by the Army if need be. Once the riots have been brutally crushed, then you can figure out why it happened. In that regard Mssr. Sarkozy is probably right.
Sunday, November 06, 2005
damn poor cat!
She looks unhappy. I know I would be.
Thus she tried for about 30 minutes to get the scarf off.
I finally took it off of her when the S.O. was not looking.....
The cat understands my frustration well, I think......
O daiji ni........
As I have pointed out before one of the dirty little secrets about USAF military transportation is the fact that the Air Force charges the other services for use of their aircraft. The Navy and Marine Corps do not operate that way, preferring instead to capture all the cost with in the operating budget. So from the customers standpoint Navy airlift saves them money. The Marines are particularly adept at this and exploit every loophole they can to use Naval airlift, since their own C-130 aircraft are "tactical". If you have to send something on a USAF aircraft it will put a big dent in your budget for travel.
Well the clever people in Okinawa have been billing the Navy for people traveling on Navy aircraft. It is quite simple you see, they collect orders from people at the terminal when they check in for travel. The same stack of orders gets sent off to the big USAF comptroller shop and in about 6 months a charge comes back to the unit who wrote the orders. We've been doing some post mortem research and found out that these people rode out of Okinawa on Navy aircraft, so in effect the Navy gets to pay twice for the same lift. Well now its time for the USAF to give up a refund.
The Air force's system is very inefficient and instead of matching the right aircraft to the right lift, cost becomes a scheduling factor. That may be required for a commercial company, but for the armed services it means that the respective services do not make the best use of the transportation available. The solution of course, is to make the USAF fund their airlift operations the way the Navy does, pay the bill up front then have one joint activity do all the scheduling for a particular theater (including Marine airlift). That's not going to happen any time soon. However it is fun to win little victories like this one.......The real trick is keep them from doing it again.
Lots in the news to talk about, just no time to talk about it. But when I get back tomorrow night(it is a quickie trip....not even any time for golf and Okinawa is a great place to play), I'll write about it, so until then:
GO READ HERE.
Saturday, November 05, 2005
Sick as a dog........
Back at home I was in bed by 7:30pm. Did not even feel like one of these:
And I sure as heck did not have the strength to be with one of these:
Even today I still don't feel well enough to play golf.....that for sure means I'm sick.......
Back to bed for now......
Thursday, November 03, 2005
O tanjobi ni.........
25. Boy how I thought I had the world on fire at that age. Add about 16 years more of marriage and getting beaten down by life to realize I did not. Ah the naivete of youth!
When I was 25 I spent the year flying Orange Air, Drug Operations ( the first ordered by Reagan), workups which got extended into a (mini) Med Cruise off of Lebanon, followed by an I.O cruise. I think I was home all of 90 days that year.........
My son still lives with my ex, hates it, and is slowly but surely coming to understand what a corrosive influence she is . However at this point, I have to be content to offer him encouragement, sit on my hands and hope he makes the right choices. I now appreciate my father a hell of a lot more than I used to............
And to add insult to injury I had to take the train up to Misawa................no night life here.
Wednesday, November 02, 2005
Odd and ends.......
Now before you jump all over me about the evil empire, the brutal treatment of 300,000,000 human beings and the titanic waste of resources, used in bringing the world to the brink of nuclear war........I know all that. That is why I said almost. I know I'm not allowed to really miss it. ( Although the job security it provided was a wonderful thing.......)
I'm talking about things like the 600 ship Navy. The maritime strategy and port visits in real places like Wilhelmshaven, Portsmouth, Edinburgh.......that kind of thing.
Great moments in carrier aviation, like getting launched for real alerts to intercept IL-38 Mays bearing southward out of Tashkent. Running down Soviet Bear aircraft off Petropavlosk........
And having an opponent with a kick ass national anthem, was not so bad either.
Contrast that, to this.
I rest my case.............
H/T to Nichi Nichi for the link.
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
Just begging for a caption
Looking at the picture at the bottom of the previous post, I realized that it was just begging for some humor attached to it. So to start the month of November, and to see the lovely Christina Cho ( the bikini girl on the left...) again, who has made protesting KFC a Korean and Japanese pastime.
So here is the deal. Pretend you are the girl on the far left working for KFC. What do think you should say? Winner gets an all expense paid trip to Japan, at their expense. ( However I will offer to buy you a beer once you get here............).
Post responses in the comments.....